Exclusive - Arsenal have asked Lille to be kept informed of any development surrounding the future of Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches, who helped the French club end a decade-long wait for a Ligue 1 title last season and has impressed so far at Euro 2020.
The Gunners are planning a major squad overhaul this summer are prepared to spend big on young developing talent in specifically targeted positions, of which central midfield is one.
In May 2016 and with only 35 first-team club appearances under his belt, Sanches famously earned a transfer to Bayern Munich worth up to a staggering €80m, which then looked like smart business when he went on to impress with Portugal at Euro 2016 a few weeks later.
Now 23, Sanches has rebuilt his reputation since Bayern cut their losses - becoming Lille’s record signing in 2019 - and is once more commanding increasing transfer interest.
It wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Lille cash in this summer and make a profit on their €25m investment and Sanches himself is open to his next destination. But well placed sources close to the player have told 90min that he is ready to prove himself in the Premier League.
Sanches has unfinished business in England after a loan spell at a poor Swansea in 2017/18 saw him make just 12 Premier League appearances, having already struggled to establish himself at Bayern.
Liverpool, who are in the market for a midfielder this summer following Georginio Wijnaldum’s free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, are already thought to have been looking at Sanches. But 90min understands he is also now very much on Arsenal’s radar and the Gunners have made contact with Lille via intermediaries to enquire about his situation and potential price tag.
As part of their recruitment drive, Arsenal also have eyes on another Portuguese talent, 22-year-old Sporting CP midfielder Pedro Goncalves. He has filled the shoes of Bruno Fernandes at club level in Lisbon and is currently part of Portugal’s squad at Euro 2020.
The Gunners' hierarchy are prepared to back Mikel Arteta to the tune of £250m this summer, on the primary condition that targets are generally younger talents under the age of 25 with potential to develop and improve, as well as increase in value. Sanches and Goncalves both fit that profile.
They are initially focusing their search on a new goalkeeper, central defender, full-back and two central midfielders. But a number of players are also expected to leave the Emirates Stadium this summer, potentially helping to raise funds, so even more could be targeted.
The first signing through the door looks increasingly likely to be centre-back Ben White, whose arrival from Brighton could be worth up to £50m after add-ons are taken into account.
Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, Norwich right-back Max Aarons, and midfielders Albert Sambi Lokonga, Yves Bissouma and James Maddison of Anderlecht, Brighton and Leicester respectively are also players Arsenal have been looking at.